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Meet Mark McLarry of My Yard Live in San Marcos

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark McLarry.

Mark, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Jamie and I have been friends and business partners for over 15 years. We had collaborated on multiple businesses in the music industry including Alternative Power Productions, the largest solar powered sound, stage and lighting company in the country. Jamie and I had noticed that while music had the incredible power to draw people together, music events were dividing audiences. We watched friends and families at festivals scattering in different directions, separated by beer gardens and age discriminating wrist bands. We often mused about ways to make music events more accessible and inclusive.

As we were dreaming up our next venture, an age-old family struggle was brewing in my household. At this time my family had grown to include 4 school-aged children with different tastes in just about everything. My wife and I were constantly negotiating with our kids to agree on a restaurant or activity that we could all enjoy. At the same time, Jamie’s family grew with the addition of their beautiful little girl. Now, both of us were juggling family fun with needing some space to relax and unwind and our solution was beginning to materialize. This was the predicament that Jamie and I had noticed at music festivals years prior was now hitting close to our homes. We used that dilemma to create the concept of My Yard Live. We set out to create a place where everyone is comfortable and has an incredible time.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a relatively smooth road. Although like any business in which construction is involved, you do run into struggles along the way. It’s hard to believe when you visit My Yard Live but previously it was a Hometown Buffet so we did a significant amount of tenant improvements including adding approximately 7000 square feet of outdoor space. There was a lot of focus on staying on top of our construction schedule. Fortunately, we were able to mitigate this by working out of a trailer onsite and overseeing the process day to day. Secondly, The City of San Marcos owns the building so they have approached this project more as a partnership and not a landlord/lessee relationship. They worked diligently to move us through the permitting process as smooth as possible.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My Yard Live brings together all the elements of a community center, park, upscale beer garden, diverse eatery, and a one of a kind live entertainment and event venue. My Yard Live combines the comforts of your own fantasy backyard with the convenience of a brewery and restaurant. Situated in an indoor-outdoor, park-like setting, My Yard Live offers a variety of activities for all ages.

Our Kid’s (a.k.a. Groms) Patio features an all-natural, solid wood play structure that was built by the same Company that developed Disney World’s Tom Sawyer’s Island. The playground includes an elevated playhouse, spiral slide, stump jumper, log climb thru, net climber and rock climb wall. We also have a small gated area with padded flooring for the young ones.

Our Adult Patio (although all ages are welcome), located on the other side of the venue, includes traditional and lounge seating, a fire pit, outdoor ping pong table, shuffleboard court, corn hole and bocce area as well as an outdoor bar. Additionally, we feature a variety of other video and leisure games throughout the venue including Table-Top Shuffle Board, Air Hockey, Pinball, Head to Head Basketball Shooting, Two Person SnoCross Race Driving, Golden Tee, Buck Hunter, Dance Dance Revolution and other classic video games as well as a photo booth, Candy and Toy Cranes, Key Master and more.

My Yard Live hosts a variety of live entertainment Tuesday through Sunday both inside and outside. Unlike traditional music venues, our music starts at 6 pm on weekdays, at 7 pm on Friday and Saturday and 2 pm on Sundays (Reggae Sundays). This allows everyone to enjoy entertainment at reasonable times. Because we stay open beyond kid’s bedtimes, we can also operate as a traditional bar (full bar), brewery and live music venue.

Our Culinary manager David Chenelle and co-founder George McKerrow (Founder of Longhorn Steakhouse) created our menu, which is based on family-style dining, offering smoked brisket by the pound, platters of St. Louis ribs, and whole beer can chicken served with sides ranging from bbq beans and coleslaw to mac n’ cheese.

My Yard Live also has an on-site 10 BBL brewery led by our head brewer Benjamin “Shaggy” Blaney and My Yard Live founding partner Freddy Bensch, who founded Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing. Currently, we have (14) My Yard Live beers on tap. The combination of all these elements is what really sets us apart from others. We are really a one-stop-shop where you can play, taste and listen!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
This is the perfect city for the My Yard Live concept. Our building was designed to take advantage of our weather integrating multiple garage doors so that the inside flows seamlessly with outside. San Marcos is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the county so there are a ton of young families moving in with a lot of new development to accommodate. Not to mention, we can look across the 78 and see our neighbors Cal State San Marcos. But with any business, you should always follow the mantra “location, location, location”. I do feel like we have found the perfect spot.

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